EXTREME DINOSAURS II. THE PROJECTS.

Almost 20 years ago the book Extreme Dinosaurs, a compilation of artwork I had done from 1988 to 2000 was released. It was a novelty mostly because the colourful approach to dinosaurs and the de-facto depiction of feathered dinosaurs for wider audiences. I had stood on the shoulders of the giants of Palaeontology from the Dinosaur Renaissance and spread my creative wings. It was a wholly personal project that would have found objections in the whole world of publishing  and most probably never would have been published, if not for publishing “madcap” houses like the defunct Chronicle Books..,. however that book opened the possibilities of my participation in many projects for 20 years AND it is still fondly remembered by some.

Extreme Dinosaurs!

Again 20 years on, and the new madcap publisher is yours truly. I have decided to start a Kickstarter project to fund the publishing of my wholly new EXTREME DINOSAURS II, THE PROJECTS.  This time a compilation of most of the artwork I have done for exhibitions and  both the science and technical  background of how and why they were done.

EXTREME-coverThe Projects are four, from the more general to the more specific. I created and put together Dinosaur rEvolution with Peter Norton and Gondwana Studios… the intention was to show a collision of skin strategies between Theropod and Ornithischian dinosaurs, in which only one group would survive extinction in the shape of Aves. Scales and protofeathers would give way to flight feathers… scales and quills would give way to plates, horns and armour. At the end all illustrated by a lavish combination of skeletons, casts and murals. The approach is somewhat controversial… but so has been most of my work all my life!

The second project is related to Archaeopteryx and Maniraptora... also part of the collective exhibition Feathers Fly; The Art of Archaeopteryx, organised by  Silver Plume Exhibitions.

The third one paradoxically started it all: murals for Hatching The Past, the now famous travelling exhibition by Stone&Co well known all over the world.

The fourth is a thorough explanation of how we made Dinosaurios Hechos En Mexico… -murals and all- widely reviewed in this blog stage by stage for a long time: from its inception to its apotheosis in the exhibition at Monterrey’s Planetario Alfa and accompanied by the essential skeletal drawings of Mexican Dinosaurs by Angel Ramírez.

The book would seem to many a simple excuse to show “paleo art”… but I’m hoping it is much more than that. Science and art all converging together  and mixing seamlessly.

Since again it is a very personal book that no publishing house has been able to take on board, I decided that to preserve the original concept and intention, the only way it would have been properly published is by yours truly. With your support this might become a reality. You might have seen some of the art inside the book before in this blog and elsewhere… but this time there will be a  full account and explanation of how and why it was done… and there’s no substitute to have a proper, printed book in your hands, instead of watching a computer screen… at least that is how I feel!

In contrast to the original Extreme Dinosaurs,  Extreme Dinosaurs II, The Projects is 140 pages of all new or revamped full-page artwork and the murals spread all along on some of them. The printing is going to be on good paper and the first edition will be  hardcover.  The project also includes some special gifts for contributors… like personalised B&W sketches of your favourite dinosaurs on demand. It is indeed as an ambitious endeavour.

We hope not to disappoint… Suggestions are welcome  You may like the new Extreme Dinosaurs… or perhaps not… but it won’t leave you indifferent! So, would you like a copy and see my own version of the latest crazy dinosaur stuff in your hands? Please go to:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/luisvrey/extreme-dinosaurs-ii-the-projects

…. and pledge! Thank you!

                                                           Here are some page samples…

 

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Posted in Archaeopteryx, Birds, ceratopsians, Deinocheirids, Dinosaur Babies, Dinosaur colouration, Dinosaur Monster Families, Dinosaur Renaissance, Dinosaur rEvolution, Dinosaurios Hechos En México, Dinosaurs Take Flight, EXTREME DINOSAURS II. THE PROJECTS, Gondwana Studios, Hatching The Past, Heterodontosaurs, maniraptora, Mexican Prehistory, Nodosaur, Ornithischians, ornithomimosaurs, oviraptorosaurs, pachycephalosaurs, Planetario Alfa, Raptors, Silver Plume Exhibitions, Sinosauropteryx, stegosaurs, The Art of Archaeopteryx, therizinosaurs, Theropods, tyrannosaurs, Uncategorized, Utahraptor, velociraptor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dinosaurios Hechos En México opens in Monterrey (Part 2)… now for real!

7500 visitors in two days can’t be wrong… ! After the preview in my last blog,  we have had the opening of Dinosaurios Hechos En México. As this little photo tour shows,  I think Planetario Alfa and Gondwana Studios have excelled in the set up of this exhibition.20180223_123740_resized03.jpeg05.jpeg

For me, the main aim was to highlight a  the enormous amount  of carefully researched information on Mexican prehistory that most of the Mexican public is not regularly  aware of. There is no arbitrary sampling of dinosaurs here.  Care was taken to name and give credit to all researchers whose discoveries were featured.  Given the circumstances and scope the task was always bound to be incomplete though… but we tried our best to select the elements that would be most popular. And dinosaurs have no competition!  Obviously, the animatronics (as adequate or inadequate as they can be)  and the  trademark of Gondwana Studios (and StoneCo) exhibitions  of adding  playground  sandy areas for children, where they learn to excavate hidden fossil treasures, just add to the popular attraction in the whole.

Casts and fossil material are scarce and difficult to find or borrow.  However,  the murals fill in and interact with the exhibits, guiding you into the world of the main Mexican dinosaurs: Coahuilaceratops (and its animatronic counterpart and skull cast) in its Parras Eden landscape with the hadrosaur Latirhinus.  The Aldama ceratopsoians, Huehuecanauhtlus and Tanycolagreous. Totlmimus and  the (possible) Mexican T. rex.  Agujaceratopattacked by a tyrannosaur and surrounded by nodosaurs and titanosaurs.   We had the fortune to have the skull cast of the best known Mexican hadrosaur Velafrons attacked in the mural by dromeosaurs and given the animatronic treatment too. There is a massive Magnapaulia herd attacked by albertosaurs,  the Parras hadrosaur and the  “Sabinoaurio”. Even Yehuecauhceratops came in two versions: the animatronic one, looking more like Héctor  Rivera-Sylva‘s traditional one, and the mural reconstruction  based on my collaboration with Angel Ramírez.   The contrast of the animatronic tyrannosaur and my own tyrannosaur murals (Labocania with its colourful feathers and  a feathery T. rex against the grey nakedness of its counterpart) couldn’t be more evident here… and is striking. Face to face.  I think it works in a kind of provocative way! Great food-for-thought to tickle the audiences.

If you look carefully even the Mexican heteredontosaur and coelophysid are present. The exhibition harbinger is this fairly well-sized animatronic sauropod (purportedly a titanosaur…) and the exit corridor is surveyed by the only pterosaur of the exhibition.

But what really counts is the public… and the reaction has been massive:  I got news that there were 7500 visitors in only the first weekend. Can we ask for more? The Mexican audiences deserve this and more… impeccable organisation!  Thanks to all of them we can say “mission accomplished!”.

Special thanks to Rosy Bustindui for these great photos…and special thanks also to  Peter Norton of Gondwana Studios and Planetario Alfa that did such great job mounting and printing the murals and making this exhibition a really dignified effort for all the people in Mexico… and at the same time opening an educative space like no other, guiding them right into the enigmatic Mexican Prehistory. Hope to see you all there in October!

Posted in Casts, ceratopsians, Dinosaur Models, Dinosaurios Hechos En México, Dinosaurs, hadrosaurs, Heterodontosaurs, maniraptora, Mexican Prehistory, Museum Displays, Nodosaur, Ornithischians, ornithomimosaurs, Planetario Alfa, Pterosaurs, Raptors, Sauropods, Theropods, Titanosaurs, tyrannosaurs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Monumental Distraction… Now finally named: Borealopelta!

nodosaur copy It’s been a while since I do something spiky and scaly… no feathers this time! But I couldn’t resist the temptation: It is not very often there’s a find as this remarkable nodosaur fossil  now at the  Tyrrell Museum, the supreme Dinosaur Mecca  in Alberta, Canada and made public by National Geographic in astounding detail… the carcass, now named as Borealopelta markmitchelli,  originally fell to the bottom of the sea or waterway on its back, but turned  over and with a painstakingly good restoration work   we get an almost life-like gargoyle, a real  snapshot of the animal’s front, fully armoured and looking as if it was alive still! It clarifies a lot about nodosaur armature, and simply  the incredible brightly woven spikes  would be a deterrent.. and a distraction to the odd Acrocanthosaurus, busy following sauropod herds!

It is not the first time I do a spiky one  coloured red… While  Jakob Vinther  fully reaches his conclusions studying melanosome fossilised remains preserved… I picture a reddish handsome devil!nodosaur-fossil-canadian-mine-face.adapt.1900.1

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Proud to present: Dinosaur rEvolution. Secrets of Survival, The Motion Picture. Live in Tasmania!

DSC06702Please click in the links…  Gondwana Studios Exhibitions

The Dinosaur rEvolution – Secrets of Survival Video by the Royal Society of Tasmania

Things are evolving very quickly… these videos  are just the starting point… and there will be more in the future with revised, added material and  a whole bunch of  revamped, updated information.

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More previews from the Kelly Tyrannosaur Project.

Kelly TrixFBAs we can see here… not everything tyrannosaur has to be Tyrannosaurus! This classic scene has been depicted many times…And it should have been an awesome one to watch. Triceratops was once depicted as a mud wrestler by Dr. Bob Bakker.

Mike Kelly has been painstakingly putting together a treaty about Tyrannosaurus that wants to embrace everything: from local environments, to the prey, to the extant contemporary fauna and to the different approaches to recreate the image of the über predator… feathers and no feathers,,,. Obviously after my “conversion” through the discovery of  Yutyrannus, there was no way I could go back to do Tyrannosaurus the way I had done all my life. Parsimony reigns in Palaeontology. We will need now hard evidence to see T. rex naked the way it used too be, even if for some  the acceptance of image transition has been and continues to be very hard. And that has included me and Mike himself… But once you make your mind about the new image and understand why,  the only question for the artist from then on is to make the image believable!  I’m really looking forward to see Mike Kelly’s book finished and published. It’s going to be a real achievement at every possible level. Tyr  rowB

Obviously the one showing the Keratin Revolution was not only T. rex… and Triceratops had to have his whole new make-up too! This time blending the hard evidence of hits skin,  I have used a B&W stripped  pattern that I have used before and curiously makes it blend quite well with the surroundings . Keep plugged in for more on the Keratin Revolution in the not so far future!

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Dinosaur Isle Museum and SVPCA 2019…

With the goodwill, imagination and energy of Martin Munt, Gary Blackwell (and the whole team), after many years of sporadically attending SVPCA meetings, I think this year was probably the best organised of all I have attended so far.  The novel organisation of the talks not in seat rows in an auditorium, but freely seating around tables enjoying the sessions… that was an excellent idea.  The lunches were well catered for and generous, and obviously, it helped that in reality, all happened in a yacht club!  Very good exhibitors in general with a marvellous, reduced-scaled 3D printed Neovenator,  excellent sculptures of Andrew Cocks and marvellous fossils courtesy of several famous collectors, including a fantastic rebbachisaurid sauropod provided by famous TV star UK dinosaur expert Dean R. Lomax author of Dinosaurs of the British Isles… but unfortunately, the attendance was not extremely numerous.

Some people managed to get a copy of Extreme Dinosaurs Pt II at the conference… I thank you!

image.pngDSC09070 I’m eagerly awaiting the first reviews. Hope they will be kind with my not-so-perfect use of the English language! I would like to especially thank Richard Forrest, my old pals David Unwin and David Martill (trying hard to to debunk current thinking about pterosaur skin… we’ll see!)DSC09080Remmert SchoutenDarren Naish, Mike Taylor (left us breathless with his sauropod pictures!), Cindy Howells, Jeff Liston, Tyrrell’s Museum ace Don Henderson, legendary IOW natives John Sibbick and his wife and many more, including a very interesting talk by David Norman reappraisal of Scelidosaurus (with new points of view that actually have a lot to do with one of the projects reviewed in Extreme Dinosaurs II:  Dinosaur rEvolution!), the unfortunately very brief (thanks to chicken problems) appearance of Georgia Witton McLean and Mark Witton and our dedicated hosts for making the event lively and welcoming…

Just a couple of suggestions: next time please don’t do >all< the dinosaur talks last day!

And SOS: PLEASE do something for that neglected Dinosaur Isle Museum... One of the most important landmarks in the UK’s palaeontology and one of the most prolific purveyors of dinosaur fossils of the land deserves better. Many sculptures were in such deteriorated state like I’ve never seen anywhere in the world… including my beloved, now really sad-looking,  Caudipteryx, designed and supervised by me and constructed by sculptor Jonathan Hateley, in the days of old, for some famous Dorling Kindersley books. DSC09051.jpgDSC09050.jpg

Maybe it’s all down to government cuts? I noticed to my relief that there was not a single Brexit bone in the house…  and not even some of the native Isle of Wight ones!

DSC09049Thank you all for the support and great European solidarity!

See you at Tet Zoo next… this time with even better and a copious amount of copies of Extreme Dinosaurs The Projects Pt. II! image

And by the way, I’m still waiting for an answer to my query regarding the function of Melanosomes and what it might mean fo the study of colour on dinosaurs! Ruffling feathers anyone?

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Always trying to find new alternatives…

T rex Study copyTyrannosaurus rex has been depicted in every possible guise we can imagine… the next reconstruction always pretending to be more accurate than the previous. It is the favourite dinosaur par excellence. So I decided to have another try… a new possibility based on some beautiful pictures of vultures I have seen. Might not be that original and perhaps is a work in process… but I also attempted (timidly) to give it a beak instead of the usual lizard/crocodile snout. Given that the latest thinking covers most of the teeth, instead of lips I added a horny coverage. Indeed, the attraction of T. rex has always been the display of the powerful banana sized teeth in all their glory.

However, in my casts of T. rex jaws it is evident that even if they are fully fitted inside their sockets  (that in most of the skulls are not), there is a good part of the tooth inside soft tissue (being gums or something else) quite distinct from the enamel, that is supposed to be the visible part. In this reconstruction there >is< a T. rex skull behind all the external coverage.

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I have always opted   for the crocodile smile and overlapping upper jaw with the teeth in full show… this may not be the case although we might be proven wrong once again. In the meantime, for your perusal, here’s yet another trial on how T. rex may have looked while having a restful banquet.

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Bajadasaurus…where extremes reach a tipping point!

Bajadasaurus copy 2.jpgDinosaurs continue to be the source of amazement beyond all expectations. Now is the turn of sauropods, with the newly described South American dicraeosaurid Bajadasaurus. If you thought that the elongated cervical spines along the neck of Amargasaurus were a bit too much (and source of a lot of controversy)… think again while looking at Bajadasaurus: Same spines but twisted, facing permanently forward!

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The authors of the paper portray Bajadasaurus  spines as  defence/offence structures. However looking at it at a glance, those spines look extremely long,  thin and fragile and not horn cores as they have been described.  Imagining a neck-to-neck combat of two Bajadasaurus is easy to expect the spines shattered to pieces… this is no porcupine… it is a several tonne-long-necked animal, A sizeable theropod  wouldn’t have been impaled by the horns either.  This may have implications also for Amargasarus... Remember this old illustration?186.Amargasaurus copy.jpgWere the elongated vertebral spines really covered in keratin and used as “horns”  or were they props for a fantastic double dorsal neck sail that served as display, swinging from one side to another?  If we think about it: a theropod would have also been extremely impressed by such expanded neck, probably ornate with strips of colour for effect.

I see the option I’m depicting more feasible: It would have been indeed a fantastic display if they were sporting forward facing sails, tipped with pointy keratin sheaths, like exaggerated Trojan Horse manes. I can’t picture them as some sort of antelopes, unless the horns were exclusively for rattling noisy displays.Bajadasaurus copy2.jpg

The paper is here. The controversy continues…. and our fascination for the Dinosauria never wanes!

Bajadasaurus

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Dryptosaurus/Laelaps tribute to Charles R. Knight.

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When I saw the pictures, I knew I had to do something about it. Coinciding with a project I’m working in (let’s call it “Dinosaur Goredom”… and this is the second instalment… there are already many more I’m keeping in the vaults for later publication),   the now very famous skeletal recreation of a 1896 painting by Charles R. Knight can be admired  at the New Jersey State Museum and is simply remarkable… a specific picture of the two Dryptosaurus skeletons mounted leaping over each other in fierce battle.

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 I saw this in the internet (the excellent photographer is probably John Meszaros) and inspired me to do a fleshed reconstruction in extreme angles… not at all like Knight’s  classical, seminal version. Knight’s did a First… a rare attempt to make dinosaurs look agile and not swamp ridden or tail dragging as far back as the Great Old Age of “paleo art”. Quite a contrast with Zallinger many years later, I must say…

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In 1866 Dryptosaurus  was found and it was one of the first carnivorous dinosaurs from North America ever discovered. It was named  Laelaps by Edward Drinker Cope.  Renamed by Othniel C. Marsh  after its name became a “waste basket”,   today is considered a “Tyrannosauroid”, related to Eotyrannus,  about seven meters long and lightly built…. perhaps it might be also considered a relative of Yutyrannus .

I’m starting to address the problem of “lips” in dinosaurs… something that I had probably overlooked  in many previous restorations, where the lipless, crocodilian smile was preeminent. Lips are advocated by many, if not most, these days thanks to,  among others, Mark Witton and (even more extreme view) Greg S. Paul. However, an intriguing possibility crossed my mind while studying my foramina-ridden premaxilla cast of “Stan” the T. rex: the jaws had lizard-like lips like those of varanids? Or perhaps something else? I might be correcting  some of the old artwork and proposing new ideas in the future. One thing is obvious: A Tyrannosaurus like “Stan” couldn’t have possibly shown those extremely long and prominent teeth… the roots have clear marks that show where they were  inside the sockets; add soft tissue and only about half  of the teeth would ‘show’. The thing is: would the teeth be completely covered as in lizards, or they protruded from some sort of gums and then the jaws had fused scales creating prospective beaks instead of “lips” as the foramina might also suggest?

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Dinosaurios Hechos En Mexico. Monterrey and beyond. Our latest Dinosaur Saga.

 

When the “Dinosaurios Hechos En Mexico”  exhibition at the Planetario Alfa opened  a few months ago I was impressed by  the pictures, even if I couldn’t be at the opening. I knew that between Peter Norton‘s Gondwana Studios and myself teaming with top Mexican palaeontologists  René Hernández, Angel Ramírez and Ricardo Servín Pichardo we all have done a good job…  But what I wasn’t expecting is how impressed I would be seeing it in person.

Despite a few technical glitches  -Angel noted immediately there were a couple of mistakes  among the locations’s in the information panel and, given the size of the murals I also noticed some unfinished touches in my own digital paintings-   we could only be in awe of the excellent printing and mounting job.  The 3D dramatic quality of the murals came out of the walls, almost literally, rivalling with the inevitable animatronic sculptures. Perhaps the rivalry was too much in some cases like Yehuecauhceratops. where my Angel Ramírez-corrected version showed at the back of the old version of the ceratopsian! Or the paradox of seeing the  tyrannosauroid Labonania with “feathers “(mural) and without feathers (animatronic)!

The murals were also used to an even bigger effect and size in the Planetario Alfa stand  at the Monterrey Book Fair at the Parque Fundidora, where Carmen Naranjo gave the first  of her famous workshops for kids.

We all worked relentlessly for two days, including  another  workshop for children by Carmen Naranjo, guided tours of the exhibition by the three of us culminating in a sell-out conference by René Hernandez, Angel Ramírez and myself (unfortunately Ricardo Servín was not there)  that, being at the end of Saturday  was perhaps too much for parents staying at the museum with their children since ten o’clock in the morning!

In all we have to thank the Planetario Alfa staff and organisers , including of course Rosy Bustindui,  Maya María, Norma Guajardo and Angélica Flores for  their support and a very successful sold-out Dino Fest weekend. Hope this can be repeated soon. I think the pictures speak for themselves. Tens of thousands have visited and continue to visit the exhibition.

Next weekend, yet another event at the Museo de Geología this time in in Mexico City, where there was a round of weekly talks regarding  the first mounted Mexican dinosaur commonly known as Isauria (Latirhinus) organised by Arturo PC (with special thanks to him for this opportunity). The Geology Museum at the Santa María La Ribera quarter is such a familiar place for me. I had again the opportunity and pleasure  to meet quite a few paleo-fans, give some prints and even sign some  old and new, well-used books!

But the icing of the cake was an extraordinary conference/meeting at Ricardo Servín Pichardo and René Hernández paleobiology workshop at the UNAM. “Bringing Dinosaurs Back To Life and “Dinosaurios Hechos En Mexico” met with no sore-throats, no nerves… just plain fun with an extremely receptive audience of students.

Among them was the indefatigable, multi-talented sculptor and Gaston Design illustrious pupil,  Héctor Munive “Splintersaurus” and his son Elliott, that surprised me with a couple of really memorable presents: an exquisite, multicoloured with thousands-beads, skull of T. rex Huichol style”  and a fabulous miniature sculpture by  the extremely talented eleven-year-old, paleontoartist (as Angel Ramírez liked to call us), Elliot Munive of a Therizinosaurus over the nest, mirroring and complementing closely a painting of mine with the same theme.

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I was simply overwhelmed. The classroom session lasted for three hours and continued for another three hours and more, meeting  of friends, signing posters for the student attendants, and signing, you guessed it, copies of the Holtz/Rey Random House “Dinosaurs: The Most Complete Encyclopedia For All Ages” that is still quite popular.

I would like to add a special mention to César Daniel García… in his words: he was giving-up  studying Palaeontology until changing his mind after my talk at the classroom in the UNAM. I think that was a moment that made worthwhile the whole effort of this trip. Wishing him all the luck he deserves.

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I would like to extend may special thanks to René and all the students (too many to name) and  Ricardo Servín Pichardo (the rising paleo-star in the old René Hernández classroom and now responsible not only for many achievements like directing the restoration of Diplodocus or Isauria, but also for the education of many future palaeontologists), Rubén Molina Pérez and Eduardo Varela that  stayed  with us until the very end, and also the hospitality of Angel Ramírez, Rosario Chavarría and Angel’s wonderful mom! Angel left us to go on a trip to the North that will give us a surprise dinosaur discovery very soon… and I will be ready to reconstruct it with his advice as usual!

It is a fact that dinosaurology is extremely popular in Mexico, and considering the material that is constantly being excavated and brought to the fore these last years, I think that an exhibition like the one  at the Planetario Alfa is mandatory anywhere in the country, but specially in Mexico City, if possible enhanced and expanded with even more restorations, murals and  mounted casts of Mexican Dinosaurs…  and we have not only plans but the resources…any takers?DSC_2567

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Welcome to Dinosaur Goredom!

The Bite copy 2

I was familiar with a specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex named “Wyrex”  for a long time. Dr. Bob Bakker sent me a few pictures of Wyrex pebbly skin… but nothing else. We were at that time discussing the possibility of T. rex feathers. For me the fragment of the pebbly skin of Wyrex looked almost subcutaneous … but that is not the issue I’m addressing in this post. When I finally saw the mounted skeleton of Wyrex, it left me dumbfounded. I was impressed beyond anything that I have seen since the reconstruction of Deinocheirus:  more than half of the tail was bitten off by another T. rexand Wyrex survived the attack! It’s a horrifying sight indeed… and the simple thought of how that animal not only survived it but managed to balance a heavily unbalanced body got my mind reeling for a long time.  Indeed the worst enemy of T. rex in his environment was… T. rex!

For me the most problematic part of the fossil is the mechanical… how this animal healed such massive stump and could have walked? Was it protected and fed by a group of tyrannosaurs? The trail represents such important device for attaching leg muscles and balancing a horizontal body with a massive head! How the famous “shark on stilts” would have managed?… these seem mere academic questions: it did survive!

 It was time to illustrate it. As pathologies go this must be the most spectacular. Right at this moment I’m working in a project that is taking all my time and that will be the delight of so many dino-gore fans. And unlike empty, phoney dinosaur battles  in the movies, I am going to show  blood, guts and  and harm  in excruciating  detail! … well, more or less! In the next months I will be showing some other material … and I have noticed the wincing of horror in the face of some that have seen some of the pictures… after all we hate seeing our favourite dinosaurs being harmed don’t we? Or perhaps… not?

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